The Manchester Review
Anna Jackson
Three poems
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Not looking, feeling

I know not to look at the faces
lined up to judge, just dance
as best as I can, aim for the point
I must reach across the room,
focus on the landing of my feet,
complicated by the need to avoid
the bits of Lego and plastic cars
still covering the floor –
unbelievable that I did not tidy first.
But don't think about it, only
the rhythm and the next step
in the sequence, turning
the skittering into a slide,
the twinge of pain into the impetus
for the most forceful turn
I’ve ever given this part of the dance,
making it the emotional hinge
of the whole affair…
I can’t look up at the faces
when I stop moving
but keep moving,
not dancing now but picking up
the bits of plastic, searching for the Lego bin
and the lid to wedge on top of it,
fitting a sock into a teapot,
shoving the teapot down
into the collapsible toy basket,
past the soft giraffe that came free
with the cough medicine, past
the bear with the wobbling eye,
down past everything soft
and loved and forgotten
to the very bottom where I hit
the dust and paper scraps and grasp
a dream – or a dream grasps me,
entering my fingertips like sap,
rising beyond my wrist
and up my arm, and on beyond
the elbow and above, until
my whole body turns to wood
and I stand here as a tree,
am standing still…These pages
my leaves that talk for me.